Courtney Lee scored 24 points and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 18 after a slow start in his return to the lineup as the Knicks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 99-88, on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Moving from forward back to shooting guard in Tim Hardaway Jr.’s absence, Lee fell just short of his season high of 26 and was the catalyst in a big run to open the second half that largely determined the game.
Porzingis scored 12 points after halftime as the Knicks (12-12) rebounded from consecutive losses without their top two scorers that had dropped them under .500.
Porzingis came back from his sprained right ankle and illness, but the Knicks announced Tuesday that Hardaway had a stress injury in his lower left leg and had begun a treatment and rehabilitation plan. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Marc Gasol had 17 points and 8 rebounds for the Grizzlies (8-16), who were playing for the first time since Monday, when they ended their 11-game losing streak with a victory against Minnesota. Tyreke Evans added 15 points but was only 4 for 13 from the floor.
Porzingis was just 3 for 11 for 6 points in the first half, but hit a deep 3-pointer to open the third quarter and the Knicks took off from there. Lee had two baskets and then consecutive 3-pointers late in what became a 19-2 run that made it 68-51.
The Knicks kept a safe lead from there and when Memphis trimmed it to 88-82 with about five minutes remaining, Lee scored in the lane and Porzingis followed with a basket and a 3-pointer to push it back to 95-82.